In a wild coincidence I bought my partner a new notebook (she’s a bit of an office stationery addict) a new notebook that had “I survived another meeting that should have been an email” emblazoned across the cover. It turns out this is one of Elon Musk’s tactics for cutting through dumb meetings.
During a recent meeting, Musk addressed an attendee asking why they were in the meeting. It’s reported he said to the team member “You haven’t said anything. Why are you in here?”.
Meetings are a fact of modern corporate life. Heck, when when I worked in the corporate world, I recall having meetings about what would be covered in subsequent meetings. We actually had meetings about meetings.
As I became grumpier and more conscious of how much time was wasted in meetings, I refused to attend a meeting that didn’t have a set agenda with timings against each item and what the proposed outcome of each action was. For example, if a decision was required, then that needed to be made clear on the agenda.
I was even kicked off a national group for questioning how 20 people in a room, flying in from all over the country, eating gourmet sandwiches in an expensive venue was a good use of tax dollars and whether we’d get close to returning the value of the estimated $50,000 the meeting cost once you took into account travel, lost opportunity costs and food.
For large industry groups I worked on, I even went as far as canvassing meeting attendees by email ahead of time and using their input to put draft decisions in place so we could cut to the chase and not start everything from a blank slate.
What are your meeting tips? How do you get the most from meetings?